EDINBORO - If it's any consolation, a growing Dragons team ran into a beast in General McLane on Friday in the first round of the District 10 Class AAA playoffs at Edinboro University.
What began as a battle of give and take between at-large playoff teams Warren and McLane ended with Tyler Sanders and the Lancers taking home a 55-25 win.
After a first quarter in which neither offense threatened to score, McLane exploded for 48 points in the second Sox Harrison Stadium - in the Lancers' bid to return to the District 10 title game after a loss last year.
Sanders did a majority of his damage in that outburst, finishing the night with 199 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries - only one carry came in the second half.
The loss ends Warren's season with a record of 7-4 one year after losing 16 seniors to graduation, and their head coach from last year's playoff team. The Lancers (8-3) advance to play Slippery Rock next Friday at Slippery Rock University.
"This group of kids is a special bunch," said Warren coach Greg Latimer. "Six seniors and 42 underclassmen rallying to a 7-4 record is just wonderful. The way they've responded all year is the kind of thing coaches dream of. It was great to see."
After four-straight McLane scores to start an eventful second quarter, Warren's Kyle Kulka found the end zone for his first touchdown of the game to put his team on the board. A two-point conversion attempt was broken up by the Lancers, leaving the score 28-6.
Another Sanders run and a touchdown pass from McLane quarterback Zach Fox to Clay Smith increased the deficit, but D.J Fehlman put his name in the Dragons' record book with a 55-yard pass to Ryan Shattuck just before the half. The score was Fehlman's 29th touchdown pass of the season, breaking Austin Jerman's mark of 28 set last year.
Warren regrouped at halftime, and took possession early in the third quarter when Cody Gunn recovered a Lancer fumble near midfield. Two plays later, Kulka broke free for a 41-yard touchdown run to pull the score to 48-19.
With the continuous clock rule in effect, McLane's Joe Dunn broke through the line for another touchdown, and the Dragons scored once in the fourth quarter on a seven-yard pass from Fehlman to Shattuck.
Shattuck had a monster game in defeat with six catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns along with an interception on defense. Fehlman finished the night with 192 passing yards, and Kulka rushed nine times for 65 yards and two scores.
While Sanders was the chief ball carrier for McLane, the Lancers used eight different rushers in the game and racked up 479 yards of total offense.
The loss marks the end of the high school careers of Warren seniors Aaron Borger, Josh Atkins, Cody Gunn, Luke Wortman, Garrett Smead, and Geoff Stewart.
"They left a mark that is going to lead to more success for this football program," said Latimer.
Warren-General McLane Stats
G-Tyler Sanders 5 run, 11:56 (Evan Dillen kick)
G-Brett Kulka 50 INT return, 11:20 (Dillen kick)
G-Sanders 1 run, 8:29 (Dillen kick)
G-Sanders 3 run, 4:49 (Dillen kick)
W-Kyle Kulka 1 run, 3:43 (Pass fails)
G-Sanders 53 run, 3:31 (Dillen kick)
G-Clay Smith 19 pass from Zach Fox, 0:46 (Dillen kick)
W-Ryan Shattuck 55 pass from DJ Fehlman, 0:26 (pass fails)
G-Smith 23 pass from Fox, 0:04 (kick dails)
W-Kulka 41 run, 9:37 (Ryan Shattuck kick)
G-Joe Dunn 1 run, 2:28 (Dillen kick)
W-Shattuck 7 pass from Fehlman, 11:56 (kick fails)
RUSHING-W-Kulka 9-65, 2 TD, Luke Wortman 6-29, Fehlman 5-(-12); G-Sanders 20-199, 4 TD, Jarrell Johnson 2-3, Fox 4-15, Mark Streiff 4-20, Dunn 13-56, 1 TD, Kyle Sult 2-2, Steven Shinn 2-22, Briggs Twitchell 5-24
PASSING-W-Fehlman 9-of-20 for 192 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, Wortman 0-of-1; G-Fox 5-of-11 for 120 yards, 2 TD, Kyle Sult 1-of-2 for 18 yards, 1 INT.
RECEIVING-W-Tanner Stanz 2-65, Shattuck 6-110, 2 TD, Kulka 1-16, Wortman 0-1; G-Smith 3-73, 2 TD, Johnson 1-10, Sanders 1-37, Mike Allison 1-18.